Multi-tasking while driving is a big mistake

If you think you’re a master multi-tasker, think again.

New research out of the University of Utah shows those who multi-task the most are often the worst at it.

The study, published at the end of January 2013 in PLOS ONE, the online journal of the Public Library of Science, put 310 undergrad psych students through a range of tests to measure their actual ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously—and compared these results with the participants’ perception of their abilities and their reported use of cell phones while driving.

The findings? Turns out multi-taskers are making a common mistake—confusing an inability to focus on a single task with skill at juggling multiple tasks at the same time.

In short, they’re easily distracted, not great multi-taskers.

The study also showed that the more a participant reported multi-tasking—such as talking on a cell phone while driving—the worse his or her actual performance on multi-tasking tests. Research participants who did well on multi-tasking tests were the ones who tended not to multi-task in real life.

Co-author of the study and U of Utah psych prof, David Strayer, gives us the bottom line. “The people who multi-task the most tend to be impulsive, sensation-seeking, overconfident of their multitasking abilities, and they tend to be less capable of multitasking.”

They’re the last people you want to be talking on a cell phone or texting while driving.

On a related note, AT&T recently released its texting and driving simulator to show firsthand the dangers of multi-tasking behind the wheel. Check it out at

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